Mi Camino de Santiago (book)

In 2011, I was browsing the Valencia library and stumbled upon a random book by a Valenciano, Enrique Estivalis Rodrígo, who wrote about his Camino de Santiago, from Burgos to Santiago. It was one of the first accounts I ever read about the Camino, and it was definitely one of my inspirations to plan on doing it one day. En 2011, estaba echando un vistazo en la biblioteca de Valencia y encontré un libro al azar por un valenciano, Enrique Estivalis Rodrígo, quien escribió sobre su Camino de Santiago, desde Burgos a Santiago. Era una de las primeras cuentas del Camino que me leí, y era una inspiración para hacer planes de hacer el Camino. 

I checked it out again this summer to reread it, and I enjoyed it just as much as the first time. When I read it, I thought “Wow, not very many people do this Camino thing and here is an account. So cool.” Little did I know how popular the Camino (especially the Camino Francés) actually was. Me lo llevé otra vez este verano para leerlo de nuevo, y disfruté leer la historia tanto como la primera. Cuando me leí la primera vez, pensaba “Vaya, no habrá mucha gente que hacen ese Camino y aquí es una historia. Que guay.” No sabía que el Camino era muy popular (especialmente el Camino Francés.) 

It’s a typical Camino story, and it was the 2000s version of self-published. The Valencia library probably has it due to him being from the city. It was a bit sad when I found out the peregrino had died not long before I discovered the book in the library. Es una historia típica del Camino, y era la versión de los años 2000 de auto-publicación. Creo que la biblioteca de Valencia tiene una copia dado que es de la ciudad. Era triste cuando me enteré que el peregrino había muerto un poco antes de descubrí el libro en la biblioteca.

I don’t know why this book stayed with me over the years, but it formed part of my fascination with the Camino. No sé porque el libro me quedó durante los años, pero formé algo de mi fascinación del Camino. 

Miranda de Ebro.

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Located in Burgos, Miranda de Ebro is the province’s second largest city with 36,173 residents. It’s an important transport hub due to its proximity to Bilbao, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Logroño and Burgos capital. I remember during my 2010 trip to Donostia-San Sebastián, the train stopped and I had always been curious about the city. However, I never went during my three years in Bilbao.  Situado en la provincia de Burgos, Miranda de Ebro es la segunda ciudad de la provincia con 36.173 habitantes. Es un centro de transporte muy importante dado a su proximidad a Bilbao, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Logroño y Burgos capital. Recuerdo que cuando fui a Donostia-San Sebastían in 2010, el tren paró allí y siempre tenía curiosidad de la ciudad pequeña. Sin embargo, nunca fui durante los tres años que viví en Bilbao. 

I had my chance when I was working at a summer camp for two weeks there. It is a quaint city with the River Ebro flowing through the city, dividing it into two parts: Aquende (the old part) and Allende (the new part). They have the “Castillo de Miranda”, which are castle ruins high above the city. From here you can admire the beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and see three autonomous communities of Spain: Castilla y León, La Rioja and Euskadi (The Basque Country). Por fin tenía la oportunidad visitarlo cuando estaba trabajando en un campamento de verano (de inglés) durante dos semanas allí. Es una ciudad pintoresca con el Río Ebro separando la ciudad en dos partes, el Aquende (la parte vieja) y Allende (la nueva parte). También tiene el “Castillo de Miranda”, que es más ruinas de un castillo que está arriba de la ciudad. Desde el castillo se puede admirar las vistas preciosas de los montes cercanos y se puede ver tres comunidades autónomas de España: Castilla y León, La Rioja y Euskadi (el País vasco). 

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The town has a lot of paths along the river to explore, the town hall and a few churches and plazas. La ciudad pequeña tiene muchos senderos por el río para explorar, y también hay que ver el ayuntamiento y unas iglesias y plazas bonitas. 

The town boasts a surprise for fans of the t.v. series Friends. There is a bar named Central Perk decorated with items related to the t.v. series. There was even a sofa to sit on. El pueblo tiene una sorpresa para fans de la serie Friends. Hay un bar que se llama Central Park que está decorada con cosas relacionadas con la serie mítica. También tiene un sofá parecido al sofa de Friends. 

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Miranda de Ebro is well worth a visit if you’re in the area. Vale la pena visitar Miranda de Ebro si estás en la zona. 

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My Spanish Road Trip

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While I am working at a summer camp for most of the summer before my final move from Bilbao to Valencia, I’ll be taking some time to write about past holidays or experiences that haven’t been written about here. Mientras estoy trabajando en un campus de inglés durante el verano antes de la mudanza final de Bilbao a Valencia, voy a escribir sobre vacaciones y experiencias de que no he escrito antes aquí.  

In 2013, when I moved from Madrid to Bilbao, I did something I hadn’t done before. I rented a car and drove from Madrid to Bilbao (as I will be driving from Bilbao to Valencia soon.) En 2013, cuando me trasladé desde Madrid a Bilbao, hice algo que nunca había hecho antes. Aquilé un coche y conducí desde Madrid a Bilbao (como voy a conducir desde Bilbao a Valencia pronto.)

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After fighting with the rental car agency all morning, I finally was given the car I reserved and packed it up, leaving three hours later than I had intended. I nearly died merging on the Madrid motorways, which is thankfully one of the scariest experiences I’ve ever had. Después de discutir con la compañía de coches toda la mañana, por fin me dieron el coche que tenía reservado y puse todas mis cosas dentro de ello. Me marché tres horas después que tenía pensando. Casí me morí intentando entrar la autovía de Madrid, una de las experiencias de más miedo que he tenido en la vida.

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The advantage to driving was I could make my own itinerary, which I did. My first stop was the lovely but small Pedraza in the province of Segovia. I was looking for a place to eat, but there was nothing open in my budget. I walked through the small town and had a relaxing café con leche in their plaza mayor. It was a great visit with great views, but it was short. Lo mejor de conducir es poder parar donde quisiera, que lo hice. Mi primera parada era el pueblo encantador pero pequeño Pedraza en la provincia de Segovia. Estaba buscando un sitio para comer, pero no había nada abierta en el presupuesto. Pasé por el pueblo al pie y me tomé un relaxing café con leche en su Plaza Mayor. Era una buena visita con buenas vistas, pero era una visita corta. 

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I got back in my car and continued driving to Sepúlveda, an even more beautiful village (to me at least). I had lunch here and walked through the quaint streets for a while. It was a late lunch but a good one, and the town was closed up for siesta. I saw what I could. Volví al coche y seguí conduciendo hasta Sepúlveda, un pueblo aún más bonito (para mi, al menos). Comí en el pueblo y pasé por las calles pintorescas. Comí tarde pero comí bien, y todo el pueblo estaba cerrado durante la siesta. Vi lo que pude. 

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My final stop along the way was the Burgos city of Aranda de Duero. It was a typical small city of Castilla y León, but it had the Duero. I didn’t stay here long as it was already around 17:30 and I wanted to get to Bilbao before dark. I was originally going to visit Haro in La Rioja too, but I postponed that for another trip that I did by bus. La última parada durante el camino era la ciudad de Burgos Aranda de Duero. Es una ciudad pequeña típica de Castilla y León, pero al menos tenía el Duero. No quedé durante mucho tiempo como ya era las 17.30 y quería llegar a Bilbao antes de anochecer. 

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After Burgos, wanting to avoid the toll roads between Burgos capital and Bilbao, capital of the world, I took the scenic back roads. And the scenic route was definitely that. It took forever, it seemed, and I stopped for another coffee around 19:30 in the north of Burgos. The waiter said I still had about 45 minutes to Bilbao. Después de Burgos, quería evitar pagar los peajes entre Burgos capital y Bilbao, capital del mundo, fui por las carreteras escénicas. La ruta escénica era bonito. Parecía durar mucho tiempo, y tenía que parar para otro café con leche sobre las 19.30 en el norte de Burgos. El camarero me informó que me quedaban 45 minutos hasta Bilbao. 

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I crossed the border between Burgos and Vizcaya, and everything seemed to change. Everything seemed greener. It wasn’t raining, and it was a rare 40º day for the north coast. Crucé la frontera entre Burgos y Vizcaya y todo cambió. Todo estaba más verde. No estaba lloviendo, y hizo 40º grados, algo super raro en el norte. 

There is something I love about a road trip, being behind the wheel and the open road ahead of me. I cannot wait to my next road trip from Bilbao to València! Coming soon! I’m hoping to hit up Nacimiento del Nervión, Frías, Laguardia and Tudela on this route, and maybe Sos del Rey Católico and Albarracín. Hay algo especial sobre un viaje de coches, conduciendo y la carretera abierta enfrente de mi. Tengo ganas para el próximo road trip, desde Bilbao hasta València! Próximamente. Espero poder visitar el Nacimiento del Nervión, Frías, Laguardia y Tudela…y si tengo suerte, Sos del Rey Católico y Albarracín.

Village facts:

Pedraza: Located 37 kilometres from Segovia, the village has 467 inhabitants according to 2011 figures. It has a walled city centre and has been a Conjunto Histórico since 1951. Está ubicado unos 37 kilometros de Segovia y cuenta con 467 habitantes, según las cifras de 2011. El centro es amurallado y fue declardo Cojunto Histórico desde 1951.

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Sepúlveda: 54 kilometres from Segovia, Sepúlveda is a bit bigger with 1193 residents as of 2014. It’s known for its gastronomy and mountain views. A 54 kilometros de Segovia, Sepúlveda es un poco más grande con 1193 habitantes (2014). Es conocido por su gastronomia y vistas del monte. 

Aranda de Duero. With its 33,000 residents, Aranda de Duero is the capital of the Ribera del Duero wine region. It’s located at the crossroads of a few important mortorways. Con sus 33.000 residentes, Arando de Duero es la capital del región de vino Ribera del Duero. Está situado en la cruce de unos autovías importantes. 

Burgos…home of El Cid.

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Burgos is known for being one of the coldest places in Spain. The province of Castilla y León is famous for being cold, for the capital’s cathedral, a major stop on the Camino de Santiago Frances, and for its many pueblos (villages and towns). It is said to have more villages than any other province in the Greatest Peninsula in the World. In my experience from crisscrossing the province on the bus and train over the years, it happens to have some of the most beautiful villages too. It has a ton of mountains and a ton of plains. Peregrinos (pilgrims) get a special discount to enter the cathedral by the way. (It normally costs 7€ to enter. I’m not paying that money to enter a House of God, sorry! Even if it is said to be one of the most impressive in the world. I’m not sure they’d be happy with my Credentials going from Zumaia to Burgos with no stops in between either! So I didn’t try to use them.)

El Cid, Rodrígo Diaz de Vivar is a real (yet more known for the important Spanish literature El Cid) was born in Burgos in the village Vivar del Cid. He was very important in the fight against the Moors. I keep meaning to read this Spanish work of literature but have never got around to it. (I have read Quijote in Spanish if that counts for anything.)

In 2013, on a cold three-day weekend I had in January, I finally got the chance to visit the capital city. I fell in love with the Cathedral and the Arco de Santa María, the Río Arlanzón, the Cartuja Miraflores (a Carthusian monastery) and the views from the Parque de Castillo (Park of the Castle) of the city and surroundings. I tried tapas de morcilla (blood sausage, black pudding, whatever translation works for you), which is so much better than the English name makes it sound (Reason #928392 why Spanish is better than English) and experienced the city. I had come wanting some snow, but it was 10ºC/50ºF. On Sunday, going back to Madrid, I stopped in the town whose bus station serves as the “parada de 20 minutos” in the bus from Bilbao to Madrid. It had looked so beautiful from the road. And it was really beautiful to walk through the streets, but the good weather ran out on me. It started to rain a cold rain/sleet, and I had a bit of time to kill before the next bus to Madrid. I’m glad I got to see Lerma, but I wish I would’ve had better weather.

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Later in 2013, during my move from Madrid to Bilbao, I rented/hired a car and drove through the province, stopping in Aranda de Duero. I was running late, so I had no time to really explore it, but I did get a chance to see what the town was like (very typical small city of Castilla y León). I took the back roads to avoid the too-high toll roads and saw some incredibly beautiful mountains. I stopped at a roadside café to have one last café before crossing the Euskadi border (something like that scene in Ocho Apellidos Vascos, only rainier). I love small-town Spain in the summer evenings.

In 2014, I returned to the province once again, this time to work at an intensive-English course. I regret that my ankle was still healing from the sprain as there were so many beautiful trails to hike nearby.

On the backroads, on the old highway, there is an incredibly beautiful village in the mountains known as Pancorbo.

And I just got back from another trip to the capital city. This time, I was greeted with snow flurries, a nice change from the torrential rains that have plagued the Basque Country since November. Most of the weather was sunny, though. I stayed at the same hostal I had before, which is by far one of the best hostal (cheap hotel) I have stayed at in Spain. Happy Corral Hostal will give you a good night’s stay at a cheap price, and the front-desk clerk knows a lot about Burgos and is willing to inform you about anything the province and city has to offer.

I sort of wanted to relive Burgos before writing about it, and I was also hoping to cross a few more places in the province that I wanted to see off my list. Unfortunately, without a car, a lot of the weekend transport leaves a lot to be desired (IE, not a lot of bus options). One day, when I have a car, all these Set Meravelles that I list that I haven’t been to yet WILL be crossed off, I promise.

Any trip to Burgos is a well-deserved trip, though. Without further ado…

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Catedral (UNESCO World Heritage Site) y el Casco Viejo de Burgos

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Even though I haven’t seen the inside of it as I am a cheapskate don’t feel that one should pay money to enter a House of God, the outside alone of the Cathedral of Burgos is impressive enough. The construction of the Gothic cathedral began in 1221. Nearby is my fave, the Arcos de Santa María, the medieval gate to the city. There are a ton of tapas bars nearby, and the Plaza Mayor is also quite stunning (and yes, has relaxing cafés con leche.) Two great nearby bars/cafes are Cafe de España (opened in 1921) and Viva La Pepa, right in the cathedral square. The Cathedral and city are best contemplated from high above, from the Parque de Castillo in front of the Burgos Castle ruins (there aren’t much, honestly). I write all about the capital city in one shot because there is so much to be discovered in this province. The city capital is 180,000 habitants, by the way, with another 20,000 in the metropolitan area.

Lerma

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Lerma, population 2800, is more than a “parada de 20 minutos” on the Madrid-Bilbao ALSA line. It has many buildings designed by the Duke of Lerma, Francisco Gómez de Sandoval, a close friend of King Felipe III, including the Ducal palace. The Ducal palace was a prison during the Spanish Civil War and today is a parador, one of those castles or palaces turned into a hotel. There are also various churches and a medieval feel.

Atapuerca (to be discovered)

The Atapuerca Mountains has a ton of caves and secrets of the past. In the mountains lies the important archaeological site of Atapuerca where human remains from the Bronze Age were found in 1964 while digging out a railway tunnel. The excavation site is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Covarrubias (to be discovered)

Covarrubias, population around 650 habitants, is a beautiful medieval village located in the Río Arlanza valley. It was declared a Cojunto Histórico-Artístico in 1965.

Frías (to be discovered)

Frías, population 275, is an offical Pueblo Bonito in Spain and the smallest population to be called a city. Yes, 275 people can constitute a city (remember, Bilbao, capital of the world with its 350,000 citizens is a villa, not a city). But it was made a city in 1435 and has been one ever since. It has a castle, medieval bridge and some hanging houses. Skyscanner recently named it one of the 17 Most Beautiful Villages in Spain.

Santo Domingo de Silos (to be discovered)

The Benedictine Monastery and Abbey named for Dominic of Silos dates back to the Visogoths of the 7th century. Fernando I (Fernando the Great) had Santo Domingo renovate it, hence the current name. It’s considered one of the most beautiful and important monasteries in Spain.

San Pantaleón de Losa (to be discovered)

The Valle de Losa is located in the north of the province. The”ermita de San Panteleón de Losa” (hermitage/small church) was consecrated in 1207 and is said to have the blood of San Panteleón and figures into the search for the Holy Grail (it’s in Valencia!!!). For me, it’s the scenery that gets me. Like I always say, God is always a better architect than man.